It wasn't nuns...silly me. It was Taoist Monks....it is practiced in a variety of cultures however...here is a snippet from Chi Gong......
The next requirement for practice is in the preparation and addressing of the Lower Dan Tien. The Lower Dan Tien is an
area, not a point, it is that area which is about three finger widths below the navel. the preparations are as follows:
1. Click the teeth together 49 times. this helps to strengthen the roots and gums, it also sends calming vibrations into
the brain, and helps one to get rid of distracting thoughts.
2. Rotate the tongue 18 times left and 18 times right on the roof of the mouth.. The rotations will foster the generation
of saliva. do not swallow the saliva, but instead allow it to pool in the lower jaw area. The benefits are that the Ren and
Du (Conception and Governing vessels) are stimulated at the area where the tongue will rest while doing the exercises.
This helps to make an energetic connection at that area.
3. Rinse saliva 36x. this helps to clean the teeth, and rinse out the mouth, and also agitates the qi that is contained
within the saliva. additionally, the saliva contains enzymes that are beneficial to the immune and digestive system.
4. Swallow in 3 Gulps. this helps to draw the qi down to the lower dan tien, from which point it will heat up, ascend up
the governing vessel, and then condensing at the top, to flow back down the conception vessel.
remember that from this point onwards, the tip of the tongue will gently rest on the upper palate behind the teeth. It is to
be held there gently, with as little pressure as possible.
Your chosen number of reps in the set will remain constant. If you are going to do the minimum number of reps for benefit
(3x) then you will do 3 of each of the addressing exercises, if you do 6 reps, then you will do 6 of each of the opening
exercises. at the end of the set, you will do the same opening exercises, but in reverse order. The opening addressing
exercises are like knocking on a door, and the closing exercises, are like closing a door after leaving a room.
1. baby's breath: In a relaxed posture, standing with the back straight, and the knees slightly bent, feet straight, place
your hands at a few inches
in front of the lower dan tien. gently breathe in through the lower abdomen (Called buddhist or
diaphragmatic breathing). as you inhale the hands will move forwards as if being pushed by an invisible pillow between the
hands and the abs. In time you will feel the presence of the qi, it will be a magnetic feeling, and it will also become more
tangible and palpable as time goes on and your practice matures. In time let the energy move the hands, and use as little
physical effort as possible. as you begin your exhale, allowing the abdomen to gently deflate, the hands will retreat a few
inches, back to their starting position. This exercise helps to stablize the qi at the lower dan tien.
2. Swimming Breaths: Immediately following the above, you will maintain your standing position, and places the hands along
your centerline, at the level of the navel, backs of the palms facing each other. Inhale, and slowly seperate the two hands
from each other, maintaining equal distance away from each other, until you are at the distance where the hips and the pelvis
end. then turn the hands around so that they are facing each other, and begin to exhale, the exhale will end when the hands
have reached the place from where they began their journey. you will feel a resistance between the palms when doing this
exercise. It is OK to stop when you feel that the compression and magnetic feeling has reached its greatest amplitude and
frequency. repeat the process for the desired number of reps.
3. Gather Heavens: This is the last of the opening exercises, and gather the qi from the area and environment about you,
and brings it into the lower dan tien. The hands will be placed at your sides, palms facing the thighs. inhale and slowly
raise the hands up from, and along the sides of the body, describing an arc, until the hands are raised, and above your head.
The inhale is then completed, and the exhale begins. the exhale will follow a path down your centerline, tht ethumbs and
index fingers of the hand will be in line with each other, forming a kind of triangle. the exhale is done slowly, as if you
were pushing two ballons down into a stream, and the exhale will end as the hands reach the area of the lower dan tien..
do as many reps as required.
at the end of the ruler exercise set you will do these same exercises, but in reverse order.